A group of Binghamton University student activists gathered outside of Terra Cotta Catering on State Street to protest a luncheon event held to raise funds for the campaign of current New York Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino.
The activists, from the group The Right Side of History, protested Friday in response to Carl Paladino’s remarks about gays that have since drawn statewide attention.
‘I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t,’ Paladino said in an Oct. 10 speech in Brooklyn.
The Right Side of History took action by organizing the protest outside of Terra Cotta Catering as well as a series of 60-second speeches that were given by their members in the College-in-the-Woods, Dickinson Community and Mountainview College Dining Halls on Thursday night.
‘We believe it is our right and duty as New York residents to rally against him while he is so close,’ said Tom Fuchs, president of The Right Side of History.
Fuchs a sophomore double-majoring in integrated neuroscience and philosophy, added that Paladino’s controversial remarks are not the only things that angered the group. Fuchs cited Paladino’s radical stances on labor unions and abortion as further abuses of civil rights.
S. H. Kang, a sophomore majoring in history and a member of The Right Side of History, mentioned Paladino’s support of hydraulic fracturing and his exploitation of laborers as further reasons for protest.
‘The state of New York is currently suffering from many problems,’ Kang said, shortly after shouting a spoken-word declaration for Paladino to leave New York politics at the front entrance of Terra Cotta Catering. ‘This man’s perspective is not helping. There is no place for a man like this in New York politics.’
In his speech given at the luncheon event, Paladino spoke of his political aims that he hopes will ‘reverse what has happened’ to New York’s economy and ultimately ‘right the ship.’
Paladino spoke of New York State’s tax problems, making the claim that high taxes are driving businesses out of New York, and promised to correct the problem by cutting income taxes by 10 percent, cutting state spending and ultimately reducing the size of government. Furthermore, he made claims to increase transparency in the government, to reduce government corruption and to put an end to the ‘nonsense of a bureaucratic, progressive government.’
When asked about the presence of the BU activists and his controversial remarks, Paladino refused to comment.
Paladino’s supporters see his political stances as being crucial to the recovery of New York’s economy.
‘The taxes in New York are outrageous. It’s unsustainable the way we’re headed,’ said Al Gardner, a Binghamton resident present at the luncheon. ‘High taxes are driving business out of the state. He’s got the right idea in cutting taxes.’
Both Gardner and Gilda Ward, a small business owner from Chenango who was also present at the luncheon, dismissed Paladino’s controversial remarks as being ‘taken out of context’ and ‘blown out of proportion.’
‘He has his own convictions,’ Ward said. ‘We have just as much a right to disagree with their lifestyle as they have to practice it.’
‘I don’t see him as a bigot,’ Gardner said. ‘He’s an outspoken man. He’s a businessman, not a politician. Sometimes he just says what he feels.’
Paladino himself defended his statements on an episode of ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Oct. 11, where he attributed his views on homosexuality to his Catholic upbringing and added that he is ‘not homophobic’ and has ‘no reservations whatsoever about gays.’
Members of The Right Side of History did not accept Paladino’s defense.
‘Being Catholic is no excuse for discriminatory behavior,’ Fuchs said.
The Right Side of History campaign was formed on campus last year after the Priority March on Washington as a small branch of a larger, national organization that aimed to engage students in the civil rights movement of our generation for lesbian, gay and transgender Americans, Fuchs said.
The national organization quickly changed its focus from a college-driven organization to a more online-based network. Binghamton’s The Right Side of History has since become an independent group.
‘We are not only raising awareness, but also helping students demonstrate against inequality,’ Fuchs said.